I need help with a productive response to a young family member. Here is her question to me:
So, I'm at a Christian conference for college students and I couldn't be more convinced of our God. Yesterday we were challenged to a "social media outreach", meaning that we were challenged to contact friends and family members via facebook and twitter asking if we can pray for them in any way. I debated and debated over sending you a message because of the comments you had about your beliefs at Christmas, but the Lord has really put it on my heart to talk to you. It breaks my heart that you don't see the overflowing love God has for you and everything He has already done for you on the cross. With that said, is there anything I can be praying about for you?
Try to respond with something that will make her think...
Why did God make you an atheist if he loves you? (hence sending you to hell even though he loves you... WTF?)
Can God make a square circle? what about if she pray's reeeeaaaaallllly hard for it?
Or better yet, tell her to stop wasting her time praying for people in a first world country (Yes, I'm assuming you are in such a country) and go help the people who are starving, diseased, or oppressed. Why is her conference trying to help people who's problems are generally along the lines of, someone is sick... hope they get better, rather than people who actually need assistance just to survive another week. So much for her God's love...
erm...that's just me though, you may want to moderate it a bit, lol.
Tough one. My gut always twinges at the double standard when I hear and read things like, "it breaks my heart that you don't see the overflowing love God has for you." I doubt very much that the reverse would be seen as a sign of your love and concern for her well-being. That aside, this is generally what I choose to see these statements as from family members. Your response can vary depending on the sort of message you wish to send her. I would probably opt for a response that focuses on my relationship with my cousin taking the issue of god out of the picture. It might go something like this: "Great hearing from you! I'm doing well, but I always appreciate your love and support," and then stretching out an offer of love and support in return, or adding a comment on looking forward to seeing her at some near future event. What you say, of course, depends on how close you are to her. Hope that helps!
Ask her to pray for an amputee to get their lost limb back.
I always love why won't god heal amputees spin offs (one of my favorite sites).
Damn. I have a bunch of friends she can pray for if we are praying for that. One of my friends stepped on an IED. Can god repair the brain damage?
Tell her that she prays for you to win the lottery. If it doesn't work you win, if it does, you win.
Perhaps something like the following:
I appreciate your concern. As you know, I think our time could be better spent by learning and doing rather than praying. I am skeptical of the efficacy of prayer as I am not convinced there is any evidence based on credible, reproducible, well-controlled studies that prayer has any real value other than making the person praying feel better about themselves and a possible placebo effect on some who are aware they are being prayed for (although the STEP study showed a higher incidence of complications for those who were aware they were being prayed for). Ultimately, I don't see any evidence for the existence of a god, goddess, or other supernatural "being" that listens to or answers prayer (and, once you understand why you don't believe in Zeus, Thor, etc., you will understand why I don't believe in your gods). But, if it makes you feel better, as it appears to do for many people, feel free to pray for me.
That sounds good. I frustrates me when my family members also says "it breaks my heart..." or something along those lines because (I don't know about your family member but) my family knows nothing about Atheism except that "I won't be saved" and "refuse gods love". I would mention to her about challenging herself and instead of praying when it's your time to read (or call you to talk over the phone or come over and sit down) into Atheism a little bit to see why you are an Atheist instead of praying. (The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins is a popular book and a very good read). If your family member can take a joke I always toss one in since religion is usually a very "deep" subject.
That she can find a more rational way of understanding life and her world.
From my personal observation, youth Christian conferences tend to be bad news. If I were you I would postpone having a discussion until after they have left the conference and had a while to transition back into the real world (away from a like-minded environment and social pressures to remain so; also away from the emotional high that these environments tends to bring). In the mean time, you could say you will give them a more in depth reply in a while. Once he/she is back in the real world, feel free to be frank with them. I think I would discuss the social inequalities he/she may have observed or whether he or she was made to feel uncomfortable an analyze that to see if it would prompt him/her into thinking a little critically about his/her church/ church related groups.
I'd basically say: Thank you for caring about me, but there's nothing I need prayed about.
Then again, I usually sit quietly while my mother prays for my safety before I head out on a business trip. But she's my mother. I don't let anyone else get away with that.
Then again again...I find myself not telling her I'm leaving on business trips, which usually leads to her saying "Why didn't you tell me? I would have prayed for you" and me thinking, "Exactly."